"History is always happening" at Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site
A couple of seasons back, we gave you our thoughts on thrifting the Rock. Since then, those of us who love nothing better than whiling away a Saturday elbow-deep in musty record bins next to a cart of someone's grandma's dresses, have gained a few and lost a few. Angles in the Attic is gone, and one of our favorites, the Salvation Army warehouse store, fell victim to mold and roof travails. But Little Rock is still full of deals for the savvy and the persistent.
Compassion Center doesn't seem to get much hipster play. In fact, we've never encountered anyone holding up anything for a shopping partner to snicker at ironically — which probably explains why that rainbow-plastered Girl Scout poncho has hung around for at least three months now. Mostly the shop seems to serve seniors and families from the neighborhood. It's huge, with racks of jeans, some vintage dresses and a full section dedicated to capris. We always find at least one pair of must-have vintage shoes, and there's a fairly beefy furniture selection. (We once found a '50's modular sofa there for $75, in only slightly shabby-chic condition). Prices are comparable to Goodwill's — $5 a dress, $8 a suit, $2 for shoes — and you can have anything delivered for $20. There's also a fabulous formals' section, which nearly compensates for the one we lost when Salvation Army closed. Go for costumes, clothes, shoes and furniture; avoid if you're after books, accessories, records and housewares. Cash, check or credit. 3618 W. Roosevelt, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon-Sat.
Era's Vintage might be interesting. We wish we could say for sure. Twice now, we've gone by when Facebook says this place it open. Twice now, it's been locked tight. What we can tell from the window — there are a handful of reasonably priced items and a lot of stuff that you'd find for half the price at Goodwill. Call first, though. Cash, check, credit. 1007 Seventh St., 396-9701. 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Mon., noon-8 p.m. Wed.-Sat.
Argenta's Galaxy Furniture isn't cheap enough to call thrift, but it's by far the most eclectic selection of mid-century furniture in the area (think Mad Men). You'll find small-ticket items (fabric suitcases, kitschy wastebaskets, cocktail servers) juxtaposed among couches, cabinet record players and marvelous lamps. Bartering often works here, and check upstairs for better deals. There's also a surprisingly well-cultivated rack of vintage clothes. Cash, check, credit. 304 Main St., NLR, 375-3375, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Mon.-Sat.
As we're sure you've noticed, in recent years Goodwill has received a snazzy makeover. Gone are the days of tangled hangers and quarter T-shirts. Welcome to the Goodwill of wide aisles, blinding lights and color-coded racks. The nonprofit has half a dozen stores in the area, and they're not all created equal. First off, the Bryant Goodwill and the University Goodwill should be skipped altogether. At University, it always seems that the college kids got there first. And unless you want second-hand ice-cream and bread machines, Bryant offers nothing but department store duds a good decade away from vintage-status. The most promising options are at Markham Park Drive and North Rodney Parham. The Markham store can be overwhelming, but it offers a great selection of nearly everything. If you want a cheap TV, cheesy '70s yarn art, baskets for planting and storage, near sets of vintage dishware, books, DVDs and even 8-tracks, you've found your shop. Ladies, this is where you'll satiate that odd new craving you've developed for '80's swimwear. There's also a selection of vintage slips hidden among the frumpy PJ's and robes. Skirts and men's shirts are hit and miss, but there's a huge stock of jeans, and both the shoe and dress sections offer plenty of vintage specimens. North Rodney Parham is a more manageable version of the same. Standouts include retro coffee mugs, an incredible selection of clip-on ties and fab '80's sweaters. Bonus points for the cowboy-boot beer steins that may still be there, if you hurry. North Little Rock has both a shop and a clearance center on JFK Boulevard. The occasional novelty deal comes through the thrift shop — we saw a $50 dollar Suzuki violin once — and there's usually vintage dresses and sweaters among the regular stock, but this store doesn't quite rival Markham and Parham. The Clearance Center has a separate entrance at the side of the building. It's a bonafide digfest through unorganized bins, but $1.39 will get you a full pound of clothing. There's also an occasional worthwhile record. If you're in the area, the Hot Springs Goodwill is mandatory, especially if you're seeking men's button-downs, any kind of sweater and boldly printed silk dresses. Cash, local check, credit. 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Mon.-Sat., 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sun. Bryant: Highway 5N, 653-2209. Little Rock: 9700 N. Rodney Parham, 224-6221; 109 Markham Park Drive, 221-1018; 2904 S. University Ave., 568-5313; North Little Rock: 6929 John F Kennedy Blvd., 835-5286. (Clearance Center closes at 6 p.m. Mon.-Sat.) Hot Springs: 631 E. Grand Ave. 321-0275.